Match of the Round
Wallsend FC v Belmont Swansea United FC
Sunday, May 15, 2.30pm
Wallsend are bracing for another test of the title credentials when they face second-placed Belmont Swansea at The Gardens on Sunday in the NEWFM First Division Match of the Round.
The Red Devils, the defending major premiers, sit fourth on 19 points from nine games and are behind Kahibah on goal difference after a 3-1 loss to them last week. It was Wallsend’s third game inside a week and only their second defeat of the season. The result left them three points behind leaders Lake Macquarie but they are six points clear of their nearest rivals in the race for a top-four finish.
Wallsend coach Josh Rufo said his players were flat in the loss to Kahibah last week after their hectic schedule.
Chris Gazzard was missing for the match and will again be out for Wallsend, who had a six-game unbeaten run before round 10.
Despite the fatigue factor and the absence of key player Gazzard, Rufo said his side should have done better and they were keen to turn around their form against Belswans.
“No excuses, we just weren’t good enough so we’ll just look to this week against Belswans,” Rufo said.
“It will be another good test.”
Belswans are second on 20 points after a gutsy 3-1 win over South Cardiff last week in which they played for 70 minutes with only 10 men. Ben Cox was given a straight red card for a last-man challenge and will be suspended for the Wallsend game. Key defender Luke Cook was out injured last week but coach Brad Paul was confident of having him back.
Paul said Josh Hall was in doubt because of personal reasons but his side were otherwise full strength.
Cooks Hill United FC v Singleton Strikers FC
Saturday, May 14, 2.30pm
Newcastle Athletics Field
Singleton and Cooks Hill will both be full of confidence for their clash at Newcastle Athletics Field on Saturday after breakthrough wins last week.
The Strikers downed Toronto Awaba 4-2 for their first victory of the season, while Cooks Hill beat in-form Thornton 2-1 for their first win since round six.
The result lifted Cooks Hill back to fifth place, on 13 points, and coach Blake Glennie believed his side would continue turning good football into points for the rest of the season.
Glennie was happy with how his team had played the previous three games since a change in structure, which has helped Cooks Hill conceded only four goals – two of which have been penalties.
“We’ve been doing really well,” Glennie said.
“I suppose the results have been OK, but for me the best part has been we’ve stopped conceding too many goals.
“With Tom Sparre up front and Aiden Palozzi in behind, we’re going to score goals, that’s not an issue.
“I think second half of the season, we should do well, but time will tell I suppose.”
Singleton are on a high but battling injury concerns.
Coach David Willoughby said Ryan Hartwell was unavailable because of a calf injury and will be replaced by Derek English. Two other first-grade players, including Jackson Cox, were carrying leg injuries and were in doubt. He said 18-year-olds Nathan Hall and Tyler Felsch were on standby.
As well as the win, Singleton have been boosted by the edition of German Matthias Franz, who was part of Edgeworth’s pre-season squad. Franz featured in the midweek 3-1 loss to Wallsend and the win over the Stags.
Willoughby said the midweek catch-up game had taken its toll on his side.
“We are trying to prepare for a very good Cooks Hill side but are limited to light work due to playing three games in eight days,” Willoughby said.
“Having said that, the entire group are buoyed by our first win last week are looking forward to extending that result to this week.”
Toronto Awaba FC v Kahibah FC
Sunday, May 15, 2.30pm
Lyall Peacock Field
Toronto Awaba face another tough test of their fragile defence when they meet a resurgent Kahibah at Lyall Peacock Field on Sunday.
The Stags have conceded 20 goals across their past four games, all losses, to drop to ninth place on seven points from nine matches.
The defeats followed a promising run of two wins then a draw with then-leaders Belmont Swansea.
Coach Tony Jovcevski has lamented the lack of experience in his backline, which faces another stern examination on Sunday.
Kahibah climbed to third place on goal difference with a 3-1 win over Wallsend last week. Former South Cardiff striker Sean Clerke scored a hat-trick in the win and will be one to watch again on Sunday.
The victory followed a lucky 3-2 win over Singleton and a 3-1 loss to Thornton for Kahibah, who have mixed their form since going unbeaten through their first four games.
They have 19 points from nine matches and are ahead of Wallsend with an impressive goal difference of plus 17 to the Red Devils’ plus nine.
Cessnock City FC v Thornton Redbacks FC
Sunday, May 15, 2.30pm
Thornton Redbacks will be without influential attacker Nathan McAllister when they try to get back to their winning ways against last-placed Cessnock City at Turner Park on Sunday.
McAllister was sent off for two yellow card for fouls in the 2-1 loss to Cooks Hill last week and will serve a one-game suspension.
The loss last round ended the Redbacks’ winning streak at three games, a run which had lifted them to fifth place. The defeat dropped them to seventh on 12 points from nine matches.
McAllister has played every game this year for Thornton and been a key player in attack, especially with the absence of major signing Jamie Subat because of injury over the the past month.
Despite the loss of McAllister, Thornton will be expected to have the better of Cessnock, who have lost their past two games, against West Wallsend and Lake Macquarie, 6-1 and sit last on four points from nine games.
Hornets coach Steve Thomson said he was likely to have unchanged side, who he hoped would “be a lot better” against Thornton after the heavy loss to West Wallsend.
Sam Garaty was out suspended last week and Thomson said he was likely to come back in under 23s.
Despite their past two performances, Cessnock defeated Belmont Swansea 3-2 this year, showing they are capable of producing an upset.
South Cardiff FC v Lake Macquarie City FC
Sunday, May 15, 2.30pm
Leaders Lake Macquarie resume their campaign at Ulinga Park on Sunday against a South Cardiff side frustrated after a 3-1 loss to Belmont Swansea last week.
The Roosters, who sit two points clear of the field on 22, had the bye last week and will be keen to keep top spot at the halfway point of the season with a result against the Gunners.
Lake Macquarie coach Anthony Richards expected to field a full-strength squad, which will be ominous news for South Cardiff.
The Roosters have scored 36 times this year for a goal difference of plus 24.
South Cardiff, meanwhile, are eighth on eight points from nine rounds and are coming off a disappointing result against Belswans.
The Gunners missed an opportunity against a Belmont Swansea side who were down to 10 men in the 20th minute.
Coach Andrew Packer said stupid mistakes at the back and missed chances up front cost his side, who were in the game at 2-1 down midway through the second half.
“We were doing really well and playing the right way against 10 men, knocking it around, getting it wide and creating chances,” Packer said.
“We scored a really nice goal and were getting on top of them, but we just couldn’t finish it.”
Packer said striker Emmanuel Okumu, who scored last week, and defender Cameron Treweek were out but Jack Parkinson and Drew Chapman would return to the squad.
West Wallsend SFC – Bye